Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Food for the Gods

I have a confession to make. I have a huge bag of dates hidden in my refrigerator. And my refrigerator is far from huge. It is taking up a lot of premium real estate in there, although, since I have shoved them to the back, C hasn’t noticed yet. It all started with a trip to a baking supplies store that lies off the beaten path. The type you have to make a special trip to visit. As you wander the small aisles, cramped with all manners of confectionary ingredients and tools, you realize you must buy something, more than something, because if not, wouldn’t your trip be a waste? After all, you made this trip especially for this store…were you going to leave empty-handed?

Of course not. So in your basket goes a bag of confectioners’ sugar, an oversized wire whisk, bottles of vanilla, cupcake papers, and a big bag of soft, dark, and very promising looking dates. I love baked goods that have dates in them. Actually, I also love savory dishes that include dates. I am no proof for their sticky sweetness, whether it be in a cookie or cake, or a dish of braised duck. So yes, buying this big bag is indeed totally and unequivocally justified. And besides, I already knew exactly what I wanted to make first.

Food for the Gods
(from Aileen Anastacio’s column, Yummy Magazine November 2008 issue, with my observations and comments)
  • 1 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup dates, chopped
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour an 8”x12” pan.
- Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan on medium heat. Add the sugars and mix until combined. Remove from heat.
- Stir the butter-sugar mixture a few time to bring the temperature down slightly, just so that it won’t scramble the eggs (it will still be hot). Add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition with a wire whisk to make sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next.
- Add the dates and walnuts and mix with a wooden spoon (all the pieces will just gunk up the whisk so it’s best to switch).
- In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well with a whisk (I always like to do this to get rid of lumps and make sure my dry ingredients are fully combined). Add this to the date-nut mixture and mix until just incorporated. Do not over-beat.
- Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean but not dry.
- Cool completely in the pan before slicing. If you’d like to be traditional, wrap individual slices in foil and cellophane. Not only does this make them present-perfect but it keeps them moist for a good while!

This was, without a doubt, an excellent vessel for my dates. This can be compared to, I suppose, a Blondie or a butterscotch bar…chewy and caramel-y in flavor. Take that, and then stuff it with dates and walnuts, and you’ve got (quite literally in my book) Food for the Gods. It is moist, dense, chewy, sticky, molasses-y goodness…shot through with musky bits of dates and crunchy nuts. These make for lovely gifts…or you can simply cozy up with a plate of them and a hot cup of coffee (and maybe even a real live date!).

The bag of dates still claims its spot in the refrigerator. I have used them in these luscious bars, as well as in a sultry dish of lamb shank adobo (recipe still being tweaked!), but there hardly seems to be a dent. I am definitely open to making both this and the lamb adobo again, but I’m likely to still have dates leftover. Any suggestions for my dates? :)


Ash said...

haha, I have a baking store like that. One thats quite the trek and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't leave with out buying something. Then you end up buying lots, probably more then you need, but hey, it's gonna be a while before you might even considering going there again. right?

These looks delicious! I love dates too!

Eric Landon said...

There is some real innovation that goes into your breakfast foods.

Have you heard of the Lafayette oatmeal festival? I can't decide who is more hardcore about breakfast you or these people...


Barbara said...

I have a bag of fresh dates in my fridge also. I like them with asliver of brie and a walnut half.

Paz said...

OMG! This looks yummy, indeed!


Maricel said...

Hi! Please share the name and address of that baking supplies store. Definitely my kind of store. Would so love to go there. Thanks!

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

I'm saving this recipe and making it when my Dad gets back. I absolutely love dates. I can eat them straight from the bag ! I think I've gotten through a fair few servings in one day...

I love your photo as well. It looks really golden and yum

Anna ♥ Sugarized said...

Oh wow! I made this last year! Same recipe from the exact same magazine issue. :) But mine turned out a little too greasy..I'm still wondering what went wrong. :(

Meaghan Luby said...

oh. my.



this is my new favorite dessert and i haven't even tried it yet.


thank you so much for introducing me to this recipe! i am going to make and post my results!!! you're awesome :)
@ http://www.clutzycooking.blogspot.com
@ http://www.myscribblednotebook.blogspot.com

Mom-Friday said...

love love love Food for the Gods -- it's my absolute favorite cake bar! Recipe saved!

Rowina said...

I have fresh dates and would want to enjoy them as such but I have lots of dried figs begging to be rehydrated and be enjoyed either as marmalade or in this case as baked yummies. What do you think?

I do love your breakfast series - I'm printing and compiling them for future and immediate inspirations.
Many thanks for these!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Ash! So right! But then again, I feel like going back already! :)

Hi Eric! Thank you :) Sounds like a festival I would enjoy!

Hi Barbara! That sounds lovely…I’m going to try that :)

Hi Paz! It’s one of my favorites :)

Hi Maricel! It’s called SweetCraft and you can find them at 373 Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City. You can call them at 5718008 or 5717858.

Hi Brittany! Thanks! I hope you and your dad like it :)

Hi Anna! Hmmm…not sure. These actually came out less oily than other FFTG’s I’ve tried. Wish I could be more help! Perhaps you can email the magazine?

Hi Meaghan! Yes, please do report back if you try it :)

Hi Mom-Friday! I know…it’s sooo good! :) I love it too!

Hi Rowina! You know, I have always wondered about making Food For The Gods with figs! I have never tried it so I can’t say how it will come out so do let us know if you try it! Hope you enjoy the breakfasts :)

betty q. said...

Joey...next time, start with BROWNED BUTTER, cooled down as well before proceeding. It gives the bars a bit of nutty taste and aroma. Next time anyone goes to US, ask them to bring back for you BUTTER PECAN extract....this is what together with the browned butter makes mine different and people often wonder and want to know what is in my FFTG!

Maricel said...

Thanks for the info. Looks like I am heading there pretty soon!

thediplomaticwife said...

OH MY! I wish I could make this but that would make me have to consume all the calories since my hubby doesn't eat FFTG (Whuuutt??) ... sigh!

Midge said...

Oh, a sticky date pudding would be a great way to use up the rest of the dates in your fridge. It's the sort of thing that makes a great date-night dessert, too. No pun intended, of course... :p

Michelle said...

Gorgeous FFTGs!!! I have a similar recipe but how come mine are more cake-y? :( i haven't figured out how to make it less cake-y and more like yours -- dense and chewy.

ChocolateCentral said...

These look so delicious and are a nutritious treat. Can't wait to try these.

Ling said...

Random thoughts: date-ricotta pancakes? Or ricotta/regular fluffy pancakes with syrupy stewed dates? With a hit of orange zest? Date cheesecake/cheesecake tart with a thin layer of date filling? Brie/camembert/gruyere/manchego-stuffed dates?

I'm not entirely a fan, although I do enjoy the odd Medjool date snaffled from the hubby's stash... !


Stepford Mum said...

I have dates too! Bought them for sticky toffee pudding, and there are lot left over - but mine are already chopped up. You could wrap them in bacon and grill them :)

Marketman said...

Those look delicious. I can't have any sugar these days, but I would scarf down a half dozen of those squares in my dreams... :) Congrats on the new column, btw, I bought the Jan issue of Yummy... :)

Rachel said...

mmmmm dates! these look great!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Betty Q! Can I just reach into my computer screen and hug you? Like right now? Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your FFTG secret! :) That sounds fantastic and I will definitely be trying it out next time!

You’re welcome Maricel!

Hi DW! You can share them with friends and neighbors :) That’s what I do (my hubby isn’t much of a sweet tooth)!

Hi Midge! Yes, that is another thing on my list :)

Hi Michelle! Hmmm…wish I could help but my baking chemistry is not too sharp! Betty Q’s tips above sound great though…

Hi Chocolate Central! Hope you like it :)

Hi Ling! For someone who is not entirely a fan you sure have some great ideas! :)

Hi Iyors! Love them stuffed in bacon…mmm, will do!

Hi MM! Thank you! Hope you enjoyed the column :) I’ll be sending some of these to your dreams to enjoy sans calories ;)

Hi Rachel! Thanks!

Tangled Noodle said...

I am sending this post to my sister in LA, who loooves FFTG but has yet to find just the right recipe. I want to bite into these squares right now... My problem isn't excess dates - it's a giant bottomless bag of walnuts! Swap some? 8-D

ChichaJo said...

Hi Tangled Noodle! I hope your sister likes the recipe! And yes, wouldn't mind swapping some of my dates for walnuts! :)

Smitha Sharma said...


I had an aunt when I was a kid who always made this cake for me. I recently started baking and have always remembered this child hood desert that I craved for. Seeing your blog with the name "Food for God" on it got tears in my eyes.

Thank you so much .

Anonymous said...

Can i use a steamer for this one? Thanks

ChichaJo said...

Hi Smitha! Glad you enjoyed this post :)

Hi Anon! I have never tried steaming this so I am not sure how that would work -- if you do try it please let me know! :)

Anonymous said...

The best Food for the Gods recipe I ever tried! My tummy thanks you. My hips on the other hand hmmmmm....... Guess the ponies at Tagaytay wont be able to carry me anymore.
Ma Barker